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Film: Dum Laga Ke Haisha

Director: Sharat Katariya

Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Bhumi Pednekar, Sanjay Mishra

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Bollywood romances have a tendency to glorify love and courtship. But Dum Laga Ke Haisha (DLKH), a romantic comedy about a couple trapped in an arranged marriage, doesn’t hesitate to show its unpleasant aspects. It’s about real people with seemingly real problems.

The film opens with Prem (Ayushmann Khurrana), a high-school dropout, being forced into marrying Sandhya (Bhumi Pednekar), a woman that he finds unattractive. She’s educated, but is frumpy and overweight. But his family, based in a rustic town in Haridwar, glosses over his resistance hoping that she could turn into a cash cow. Their money-mindedness and crude practicality is shocking, but director Sharat Katariya does an outstanding job of making his characters and situations endearing. The scene in which Prem’s overbearing family forces him to get hitched is hilarious. From an aunt who can cajole artlessly to the short-tempered dad (brilliantly acted by Sanjay Mishra) hitting his grown boy with his slippers, DLKH replicates a reality that’s familiar to some Indians. Prem relents, but is unable to accept his rotund bride and rejects her unsophisticated attempts at seduction. But the funny bit is that despite Prem being an insensitive brute, we feel his pain. The credit here goes to Khurrana for making Prem likeable and endearing. He has also nailed the regional accent.

“We are like two ox[en] yoked together for farming purposes,” he summed up his woes. But it’s not just Prem that we root for. Actress Bhumi Pednekar plays the spirited Sandhya with a confidence that you wouldn’t expect from a newcomer. Their fights don’t seem contrived or petty.

What sets apart DLKH is that it doesn’t rely on any dramatic twists or grand gestures from the lovers at the film’s climax. It’s a simple love story that warms your heart. It’s set in the 1990s and the DLKH team has lavished a lot of attention on recreating that era. The stand-alone stores before the rise of shopping malls in Haridwar and the near-defunct tape cassette stores transport you to a different world. It’s delightful to watch the couple and the world that they live in. The pace is languid, but doesn’t get tiring. Take the plunge and watch this romantic comedy.